You’d never know that LM was a ‘French Gastro Bisto’ (whatever that means) by looking in through the wall of windows that run the restaurant’s facade. It looks like a modern, hip, little neighborhood joint with its orange banquettes, white table cloths and semi-open kitchen. But, one certainly understands upon first bite. The richness and depth of flavor were two constants, from bite to bite, throughout the entire course of the meal.
We decided to order like normal people for once; two apps, two entrees. Weird, right? I can’t remember the last time I did that. I usually prefer to order a bunch of apps or small plates and maybe an entree in order to taste as many things as possible. But last night was different. I was unwaveringly decisive regarding my menu selections. Very unlike me.
For my appetizer, the one I couldn’t seem to look past, I ordered the Oeuf en Meurette with mushroom ragout and brioche. French is not my ‘forte’ (see how I did that?) so I asked our server (who, as I discovered later, also happened to be the owner) what the exact preparation of this egg was. He described it as poached in red wine but when it arrived, there was not a trace of red to be found. Not in the color of the egg, nor in the flavor of the ragout. I wonder where that miscommunication happened? Was that the classical preparation that the chef chose to alter? Or, was it a new dish that our Frenchy hadn’t even seen plated yet? Could he have just forgotten? Whatever the case, I wasn’t bothered in the least. The egg was so perfectly poached that, with it’s smooth but fully coagulated white, and it’s almost cool-in-the-center yolk, its beauty was in its pureness. It sat atop a medley of cremini, oyster and black trumpet mushrooms, that was so deep in flavor it most certainly contained veal stock- cuz ya just ain’t gettin’ flavor like that from mushrooms alone. When Frenchy came back to check on us I inquired. He nodded, then stopped. He cocked his head a bit to the side, stared directly into my eyes for a few seconds then said, “So, where do you work?” He was happy to know that we approved so throughly of this simple but delicious appetizer. And I’m happy to have something new to make for breakfast:).
I was almost a little nervous to switch half way through for the uncertainty of how app #2 would compare. Could the crab bisque possibly be as good as my poached egg delight? Yes! As a matter of fact, it could! Pheeeewwww. It, too, was delicious. And perfectly seasoned as well, which, we would discover, was the other theme to our LM dining experience. The soup was full of crab flavor, clearly enhanced with butter and cream, but not overwhelmingly so. It was not too thick but not too thin, not too rich but not too watery, and it had the silkiest mouthfeel ever. Its garnish was a tiny moulded crab salad, that the bisque was poured around at the table, with a bit of fresh basil that pleasantly surprised the taste buds every once in a while. Another excellent choice! We’re doing good, so far!
On to the entrees. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I lost on this one. I was so excited for the cassoulet with duck confit and lamb sausage, but I feel it let down every bubbling, baked, meat-infused white bean stew that is, in fact, cassoulet. Really, he’s probably ashamed to even call himself cassoulet. Instead, I was served a plate of strangely spiced white beans (since when does cumin or chili powder belong here?) with a confited duck leg and a couple pieces of sausage on top. Worst of all were the stale breadcrumbs that tasted like they were toasted last week and left in a plastic sixth pan to loose any resemblance they may have once had to actual bread. Sorry, but it’s true. Its one pleasant component was the duck leg itself, which was well-developed and tender. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save the dish.
Now the brisket, on the other hand, was divine! Braised to death in rich veal stock, paired with smooth, buttery mashed potatoes and buttery sauteed veggies, this had French written all over it. Simple but complete, it was a hit. No knife necessary here; the meat shredded under the slightest coercion from the fork and begged to be dragged through its sticky, reduced braising liquid before joining with a smear of creamy potatoes. It’s making my mouth water, just thinking about it! That dish was serious business.
|Did I forget to mention the huge tab of herb butter slowly melting over the whole thing? Pure decadence.
Still no dessert for the sake of Lent. Honestly, I’m not really missing it. We did order a coffee press and were unimpressed with how tea-like it was. Boo. I’m usually a big fan of the press for the body the coffee has when it sits on the grounds but that was, unfortunately, not the case this time.
Initially, the service was a little shaky. I ordered a kumquat cocktail when I first sat down while he was parking the car (half a mile away and then commented that it should be called NP for ‘no parking’ rather than LM) and watched it sit on the server pick-up station for a good 7 minutes before I finally got the attention of another server and motioned to him that I was ready for it. I knew that that was clearly not one of his designated ‘jobs’, but come on. Frenchy was busy chatting up another table and in true European fashion, less concerned with customer service than with sauntering around the room on his own time, and waiter #2 was practically standing on top of my cocktail while he shot the breeze with the bartender. I eventually got it, with apologies, and was delighted. And strangely, Frenchy’s aloofness became endearing throughout the evening, reminding me of a different place and time. Plus, his backwaiter was on it; marking the table in plenty of time before each course, (mostly) pouring water, refolding napkins after someone got up to use the restroom. He really picked up the slack and made the service good. Props to the boy in the orange t-shirt.
The space is a bit awkward. It’s a narrow building with a dining room up front, the kitchen and bar facing each other in the middle, and another very small dining room in the back, plus a couple of partially sectioned off tables in the hallway near the restrooms. The back room would be nice for a private group of 10 or 12, I would imagine, but broken up into 2s and 4s, it’s too tight. Really, I’d say that there are only 4, maybe 5, good tables in the place. The quirky little space isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re expecting something grandiose, because that, it certainly is not.
|All chicks rockin’ the kitchen. Gotta love it.
The short version (out of 10)…
Would I go back?
Sure, if this was my neighborhood joint, I could see myself sitting at the little 5 seat bar, ordering a couple of apps and a cocktail. It’s pretty out of my way, though, and not necessarily a style of food that I would go out of my way for, so in reality, no, probably not.